FB : Davis’ accomplishments to be honored at Heisman event

first_imgWhen looking back on what it meant to follow in the footsteps of Ernie Davis, the only word that came to Floyd Little’s mind was ‘honor.’‘He meant a lot to me and influenced my life,’ Little said. ‘And without Ernie Davis, I don’t know who or what kind of person I would have been, because I really tried to pattern my life after what he could have been or should have been if he had lived.’Davis, who died when he was 23 years old from leukemia, is considered one of the greatest running backs in college football history and became the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy in 1961. Fifty years later, Syracuse University will commemorate Davis’ groundbreaking accomplishment at The New-York Historical Society Museum and Library on Friday night in New York City.Vice President and Syracuse University alumnus Joe Biden will deliver remarks, according to an SU press release. In addition, the program will include a film tribute to Davis.Public administration professor Walter Broadnax said he’s happy someone as important as Davis is still remembered, even after so many years.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text‘He was a trailblazer,’ Broadnax said.Broadnax recalls seeing Davis play in 1960 when he went to see the Orange take on Kansas with the rest of his high school football team. Though the Jayhawks had some impressive athletes on their sideline, Broadnax saw that Davis was among the elite. That he was faster and more agile than the other players.On one play, Broadnax still remembers Davis running down the sideline for a touchdown that ultimately put the game on ice for Syracuse, which pulled out a 14-7 win.As a young African-American, Broadnax saw Davis as an inspiration, someone he could look up to.‘Those were meaningful times in my life,’ Broadnax said. ‘You’re talking about what’s possible in your life, not that I was going to be a Heisman Trophy winner, but a black kid could get the highest honor in his sport was a big deal.’And while Davis was a superstar on the field, he was also someone who became a pioneer in bringing diversity to college athletics.While Jim Brown, another former Syracuse running back great, is someone who will always be synonymous with SU football, former SU head coach Dick MacPherson said Davis was special, too.‘There was nobody like Jim Brown, then and/or now, but in terms of Ernie Davis, he made it even one step further by being the type of person he was,’ MacPherson said. ‘ … He put another image on No. 44, and it was just a wonderful, wonderful thing.’Following the video tribute to Davis on Friday night, there will also be a panel to discuss diversity and equal rights in college athletics. Multiple Syracuse University alumni are on the panel, including Little, former basketball player and current Detroit Mayor Dave Bing; Pro Football Hall of Famer Art Monk; and Billy Hunter, executive director of the NBA Players Association.The panel also includes former Southern California running back Mike Garrett, who was the second African-American to win the Heisman Trophy, and sportswriter Frank Deford.In recent years, SU has honored Davis by retiring No. 44, naming the field inside the Carrier Dome ‘Ernie Davis Legends Field,’ naming a dormitory and dining hall after him and erecting a statue of him on the Quad on the Syracuse campus. There was also a movie called ‘The Express’ based on Davis’ life.But the main reason for Friday’s commemoration is to remember Davis for being the first African-American player to win one of the most prestigious awards in all of sports.For Little, he knows the tribute to Davis will make for an unbelievable night.‘He’s still remembered and people still embrace him, and we’re here to celebrate him and honor him.’ Little said. ‘I think it’s great we can do that, still 50 years later.’[email protected] Published on December 7, 2011 at 12:00 pm Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Commentslast_img

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